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Morphine fans: This tribute show will ease your pain

Friday the 13th is your lucky day if you’re a Morphine fan.

Jeff Harshbarger, a jazz bassist, radio show host and fan and student of much music, is celebrating his birthday by putting on a tribute show Friday night at the Brick, 1727 McGee. Show time is 10 p.m. Cover is $7.

“Morphine was one of my favorite bands in the ’90’s, one of those bands I would drive as far as I had to to see,” Harshbarger said. “I’ve wanted to do a night of their music for as long as I can remember, so I figured my birthday was as good of an excuse as any.”

The first set will be a tribute to the jazz-funk trio Medeski Martin & Wood by a band he’s calling Sequel: Ken Lovern on organ/keyboards, Brian Steever on drums and Harshbarger on bass.

Cure for Pain, the Morphine tribute band, will follow: Harshbarger on bass, Russell Thorpe on saxophone and Kent Burnham on drums. Anna Cole and Ken Lovern will guest on a few tunes.

Morphine was a trio from Cambridge, Mass., that blended blues, rock and jazz. It released four albums from 1992 to 1997. In July 1999, frontman and bassist Mark Sandman died after suffering a heart attack on stage in a rock festival in Italy.

“I love everything about them: their low-fi tone, the songwriting, the slide-bass,” Harshbarger said. “I’ve been itching to build one and experiment with some pedals.”

The set list will draw from all of Morphine’s records.

“I’ve had a ton of requests, but there’s just no way to do everything I love from them in one show,” Harshbarger said. “Most of it will be faithful to the band, but most people that know my music know I like to get a little weird, so we will be taking a few respectful liberties here and there.

“It’s all in good fun, and a celebration of life by playing music I love from bands I wish I was in.”

The Morphine/MM&W connection has some Kansas City history. They both performed at the H.O.R.D.E. festival at Sandstone Amphitheater in July 1997. In May 1998, Morphine headlined a show at the Folly Theater with 16 Horsepower.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

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